Q&A with Seattle Graphic Designer Chad Syme, Pinterest Superstar

Chad Syme

Image-sharing site Pinterest is the fastest-growing web site in history. One of its early stars–the Sid Caesar of Pinterest, if you will–is Seattle graphic designer Chad Syme, who Mashable recently named one of their “21 Must-Follow Pinterest Users.”

TSB: Hey Chad, your Pinterest boards have more than 300K followers! How the heck did that happen?

Chad: I’m not entirely sure. I received a message from Enid Hwang, the Community Manager at Pinterest a few months back. She contacted me to compliment me on my boards. She said she was surprised it took her that long to come across my account. That encounter may have lead to my pins getting pushed to the main pin stream, but I don’t know for sure. They have, from my understanding, a group of hand selected users they feature pins from in the “Everything” or “Popular” feeds, Maybe I’m in that club now? Whatever the reason, my followers count continues to increases an insane amount daily. There are two types of “Followers” counters for each user. One, which you see just above a users profile photo, represents the total number of people following EVERYTHING a user has. The other counter appears at the top of each board, and that number represents the total number of people following that specific board. As of 2:58 pm on Monday, February 13 I have 141,923 people following everything I pin. At this same time my individual boards average more than 300,000 followers. Crazy! I expect to hit half a million individual board followers sometime in April.

TSB: Have you used your pins in your own work as a designer?

Chad: Yes, I use Pinterest daily for design inspiration. I, as I would suspect most designers, have held the practice of storing visual inspiration from the web in folders on their computer’s hard drive. This is a terribly inefficient way to collect and browse design inspiration easily. I almost never looked at any of mine. Doing this is also a huge drain on memory. I use to just browse ffffound.com for real-time design inspiration. I would have loved an account with that services but being invite only and more exclusive than a one-man-band that wasn’t going to happen. Pinterest is the best solution for this so far. I have boards for creative categories like graphic design, typography, package design, illustration, animation and so on. If I’m designing a logo or creating custom typography then all I have to do is scroll through the clean, well formatted pages of my Typography or Logo design boards. With the growing number of users on Pinterest sourcing diverse creative inspiration it’s just going to get better and better.

TSB: Do you have some favorite places to look for things to pin?

Chad: I’ve got a “blogs” board where I often choose to “pin” links to sites that I’ve found to provide endless amounts of visual inspiration in a range of categories. I pin a ton of stuff from thefancy.com, It’s great for clothing, housewares, gadgets, cars etc… svpply.com is also a favorite for the same range of categories. For design focused sources I like buamai.com, bpando.org, designspiration.net, dribbble.com, and bench.li.

Chad's Pinterest Profile Photo
Chad's Pinterest Profile Photo

TSB:Would you say you have a specific aesthetic with the stuff you pin?

Chad: Absolutely. Aesthetics are very important when choosing to pin an image. I’ve even gone searching for better images of things I want to re-pin from other users. With regard to the overall aesthetics of any image I would say I look for images that are large, well-composed and well-lit. For some of my board I have more specific aesthetic criteria for the images. For Package Design I like packaging that’s been photographed on a white background; for Food and Drink I like the images to be well composed, with good lighting, color and contrast; I prefer Fashion Design images to be of the whole outfit, preferably on the runway or in a studio setting with little to no cropping. I like the subject of any image I pin to fill a greater portion of the image area with minimal empty space. When I or someone else is scrolling through one of my boards I want it to be a visually pleasing experience. Every image in a board of mine needs to feel like a piece of a cohesive thought. If I pin a crappy image, even if that image is of something cool, when it’s mixed in with a bunch of great images it breaks the experience I want to have.

TSB: What are some of your favorite Pinterest boards that you’d recommend others follow?

Chad: There are some people I follow that I find are the best sources for particular categories of interest. For food I follow and regularly re-pin images from Leah Bergman, she runs the blog freutcake.com. For Mid Century interest from furniture and decor to old food advertisements I have one source I recommend and that is Ruth who runs the blog nopatternrequired.com. And Andrés Lucas Esteve is my favorite for architecture.

Thanks, Chad! Check out Chad’s Pinterest boards thisaway.

2 thoughts on “Q&A with Seattle Graphic Designer Chad Syme, Pinterest Superstar

  1. I have a question for Chad: how do you make sure that nothing you put on Pinterest violates copyright infringement laws. The TOS conveys broad rights to Pinterest, and leaves the member legally exposed (or so I’ve read). Are you concerned about using repin without knowing the original source?

    Love Pinterest, but wish our legal system could catch up with technology.

    Best Regards,
    Kelly Grace

    PS Great interview. Thanks.

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